LA sheriff: No deputies on Metro patrols if department isn't given full authority of security

"We're not going to bid for parts of it. We're not going to bid for the role of being overpaid security," said Sheriff Villanueva.
LOS ANGELES COUNTY (KABC) -- Following Tuesday's shooting in a New York City subway car that left dozens of people injured, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva is offering a new plan to keep Southern California riders safe.

However, if Metro's board of directors doesn't accept his plan, Villanueva will pull the 320 deputies currently assigned to patrol the Metro transit system alongside city of Los Angeles and Long Beach police officers.

"I can have our homicide, detective division to fully staffing," explained the sheriff. "I have 23 patrol stations that are at 70% staffing level. I can get them fully staffed so we can do a lot of good things that's going to save more lives than having 300 deputies sitting on their hands in the subways."

Since 2017, three law enforcement agencies have patrolled Metro, but Villanueva said it's been a failure with ridership down and with people currently experiencing homelessness living on the trains.

So the sheriff is offering to take over policing of the entire system, increasing LASD's contract from $60 million a year to $130 million - all or nothing. The contract is set to expire July 1.

"We're not going to bid for parts of it. We're not going to bid for the role of being overpaid security," said Villanueva.

The chair of Metro's board, L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis, was, once again, not amused by Villanueva's proposal.

In a statement, Solis said in part, "The politicizing of [Tuesday's] Brooklyn subway shooting by the sheriff is beyond the pale when we should be ensuring the safety of our riders and employees. The action by Metro to award a contract to three law enforcement agencies, the Long Beach Police Department, the LAPD, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's department, was taken to improve law enforcement response."

Supervisor Kathryn Barger also weighed in, saying, "Sheriff Villanueva and I are on the same page when it comes to supporting a law enforcement presence at our public transit systems ... However, the 'all-or-nothing' approach that he voiced [Wednesday] may serve to question his greater commitment to public safety and collaboration."

Villanueva insists he's not going after Metro simply because he's up for re-election, saying he didn't choose the contract's expiration date of July 1, which is sandwiched between the primary and the November election.

Meanwhile, Metro issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon.

"Metro's number one priority is the safety of our riders and our employees, and we will make sure that any changes to our public safety systems are consistent with Metro's values.

The Metro Board of Directors approved funding the remaining six months of our law enforcement contracts with the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Sheriff's Department and Long Beach Police Department and authorized an extension of up to one-year to allow for a new procurement process of law enforcement services.

We will continue to prioritize our riders' safety on our system as well as identify long-term public safety measures. We hope that we are able to work together with all our law enforcement partners to arrive at a mutually satisfactory agreement."

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